Magallan in and de Ligt out?

To get to the top in football, players often need a stroke of luck, and this is exactly what happened to Lisandro Magallán, the Argentinian central defender, who until recently played for Boca Juniors.

Until one year ago Magallán was languishing in the Boca Juniors reserve team. Then, in a match against San Lorenzo on May the 28th, he was brought on to replace the injured Juan Manuel Insaurralde. It was just the break he needed, and from the moment on, he became a regular fixture in the team’s back four, winning the honour of wearing the captain’s armband.

The 24-year-old’s good fortune was somebody else’s good luck too, namely that of Ajax, the Dutch Eredivisie side. They have been keeping a watchful eye on the Boca Juniors’ player’s rise to stardom, and they have swooped in to seal a deal that will now see the central defender grace the turf for Ajax at their Johan Cruijff Arena.

When rumour of the transfer first hit the airwaves, it was assumed (and perhaps hoped) by Ajax fans that the Argentinian would play alongside the youngster, Matthijs de Ligt; helping the 18-year-old to learn from his experience. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

It could well be that Ajax manager, Erik ten Hag, sees the need for a more stable, known, talent rather than relying on the budding promise of a youngster. But whatever the real reason, the arrival of Lisandro Magallán appears to be paving the way for ten Hag’s departure.

Two teams from the English Premier League have already expressed an interest in acquiring de Ligt’s services. They are Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, and its anybody’s bet who might win out. Despite his youth, de Ligt has already displayed great skill and has that rare commodity – a good footballing brain, earning him a place in the Netherlands full national team.

From de Ligt’s point of view, there is a potential danger if he does go to Manchester City. The threat comes from the fact that manager Pep Guardiola is said to be happy with City’s defensive unit and that he has his eye on de Ligt mostly to be on call as a replacement for Vincent Kompany if he should get injured.

But what gifted young players need most is play time. To be sat on the bench either at Manchester City or at Ajax (if Lisandro Magallán is given first choice in the Ajax defence) will not provide the young dutchman the experience he needs to fully develop his potential.

A move to Tottenham Hotspur, however, could hold more promise. It is thought that Spurs manager, Mauricio Pochettino, wants de Ligt as a straight replacement for Toby Alderweireld.

If it does come to bun-fight between Manchester City and Tottenham, the fact that Spurs have bought many defenders from Ajax, the likes of Vertonghen, Alderweireld, and Sanchez, (not forgetting the transfer of Christian Eriksen too), could work in Tottenham’s favour.

Wherever de Ligt’s future lies away from Ajax, one can only wonder whether the Eredivisie runners-up will be making a mistake if they do decide to part company with the promising youngster.